Pets in the clear for Covid-19

21 March 2020 - 16:30 By Staff reporter
A women feeds cats in Naples on March 19 2020 as Italy remains under a nationwide lockdown in a government decree that orders Italians to stay at home amid the coronavirus outbreak.
A women feeds cats in Naples on March 19 2020 as Italy remains under a nationwide lockdown in a government decree that orders Italians to stay at home amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Image: REUTERS/Ciro De Luca

You don’t have to worry about catching Covid-19 from one of your pets — this particular strain of the coronavirus has infected hundreds of thousands of humans around the world but not a single cat or dog has been harmed by it and won’t be.

National and international health organisations continue to assure pet owners that dogs and cats cannot contract or transmit Covid-19.

Both the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health and the US’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said there is no evidence that companion animals such as cats and dogs can spread the virus.

“Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare,” the animal-health organisation said.

Global veterinary diagnostics firm Idexx Laboratories confirms the health organisations’ reassurances.

Idexx announced earlier this week that it has evaluated “thousands of canine and feline specimens during validation of a new veterinary test system for the Covid-19 virus” and “seen no positive results in pets to date of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain responsible for Covid-19,” according to a company press release.

These new test results support expert recommendations against testing pets for Covid-19. Pet owners whose dog or cat is showing respiratory clinical signs are advised to contact their veterinarian to test for more common respiratory pathogens.

Tests on two dogs in Hong Kong came up positive for Covid-19 this week but the results are not absolutely conclusive.

A German shepherd dog living in Hong Kong Island was quarantined along with a mixed-breed dog from the same home on Thursday after their owner was confirmed as being infected, the territory’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said.

Though the shepherd tested positive for the virus no such result was obtained from the mixed-breed dog and “neither dog has shown any signs of disease,” the department said, adding it will continue to monitor both dogs.

The territory’s animal-welfare authority reminded pet owners to use good hygiene practices and urged them to avoid kissing their pets (irrespective of Corvid-19) but stressed that there is currently no evidence that pets can be a source of the virus or that they can get sick from it.

“Under no circumstances should [owners] abandon their pets,” the AFCD said.

The new case was reported after a 17-year-old Pomeranian, which had repeatedly tested “weak positive” for the virus, died two days after it was released from quarantine virus-free.

Animal-welfare experts have suggested that the Pomeranian’s death was caused by the stress of being quarantined and separated from its owner.

So it seems that only if you’ve recently taken on a specific type of Chinese bat as a pet might you be vulnerable to Covid-19 if some of its droppings land unnoticed on your hot-cross bun, but even then the chance of you getting the virus is remote.


subscribe